Ever-present Dinamo Kazan look to hit ground running in Eindhoven

©: Frank Uijlenbroek / World Sport Pics

Dinamo Kazan will hope to hit the ground running in Eindhoven when they face Mannheimer HC on April 17 (12.45 CET) in what is their first game of 2019.

It is one of the difficulties for the club who have lamented being slightly under-cooked in recent years for the KO16 with their first league match not scheduled until May 12.

And so Araik Margaryan’s side will hope two training camps in Belgium in the spring and one in Kislovodsk in the south of their country will give them enough preparation for a huge challenge.

The Tartarstan club won the Russian championship again last October as they remain one of just two sides to play in every season of the Euro Hockey League.

Last year, they bowed out of the KO16 to Royal Racing Club de Bruxelles but bounced back to beat Rot-Weiss Koln in a classification match, something they can look to for confidence.

The side features six of the current national squad who are preparing for June’s Hockey Series Finals and possible Olympic qualification: goalkeeper Marat Gafarov, defenders Denis Shchipachev, Anton Kornilov and Semyon Matkovsky, midfielder Alex Mayorov, forward Pavel Golubev, and midfielder Nikolai Yankun, serving as assistant coach.

The panel has changed significantly since last year with Nikolay Komarov, Pavel Plesetsky and Vladislav Lebed moving to the Volna team that has been revived in St Petersburg.

Joining the Kazan ranks are the Akuneev brothers, Emil moving from Dynamo-TsOP and Amir from St Petersburg team. Anton Kornilov returns to the capital of Tatarstan from Dinamo Stroitel in Yekaterinburg.

There is also a strong Pakistani element to their panel with Anwar Hassan continuing with the club while internationals Ali Shan and Abu Baker have been signed.

They will be without some key players, however, with Shchipachev and Emil Akuneev carrying injuries and Kornilov not able to play a part in Eindhoven.